How many times should you take the SAT?

Taking the SAT may not be your idea of a good time, but there is a lot of research showing that your score will likely improve if you take the test more than once.

It’s not hard to understand why this may be the case. After all, taking the SAT multiple times means you’ll gain valuable insight regarding the questions, improve your time management, and enter the test with less stress.

So, below we’ve compiled a list of things to consider when deciding how many SAT tests to sign up for.

You can take the SAT as many times as you want — there are no restrictions

Unlike the ACT, you can take the SAT as many times as you like. However, the College Board will only keep your 6 most recent tests on file.

But you may have to send your bad scores, too

Though you can certainly take the SAT a dozen times, it’s not necessarily a great (or economic) choice to do so. Although you can usually send your best SAT score to colleges, some schools will ask you to send all your scores. In that case, it may not be so smart to have a slew of low marks.

Taking the test more than once means you can focus on each section

If you take the SAT more than once, you can increase your total score by focusing your attention on a separate section each time. This approach works best when the colleges you’re applying to superscore (consider your highest section scores across all the times you took the SAT) your results. Hypothetically, you could focus on Math for one test date, Reading for another, and Writing and Language for the third.

However, this approach doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try on all of the other sections while testing. Major score discrepancies could raise red flags to both the colleges you’re applying to and to the College Board. Nevertheless, this approach is a good way to hone your knowledge in one area and potentially achieve near-perfect section scores one test at a time.

Taking the test too many times may look suspicious to schools

It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t take the SAT too many times. If you’re applying to schools that require all scores, then don’t take the test more than six times. It might seem like you’re not taking the test seriously enough to prepare each time. The SAT is meant to evaluate all students equally, so you don’t want to indicate that you had to take it more than six times in order to do well.

Focus on preparation, not test-taking

Instead of asking “how many times can I take the SAT?” you should think about your approach to current test preparation: focus on the next upcoming test, not on future tests. Are you targeting your weak spots and filling in your knowledge gaps? Are you timing yourself when you take practice tests to practice your pacing? By putting in the time and effort to study effectively for the test at hand, you can worry less about future tests.

Don’t forget: the SAT alone won’t get you into your dream school

In addition to the SAT, consider your schoolwork, community service, and clubs or sports — don’t neglect them by focusing too much on the SAT, as they’re also important for your college application.

Moreover, the SAT tends to involve stress and anxiety. Acquiring real test experience is helpful in teaching you to regulate your nerves, but you don’t need to put yourself through it too many times. Taking it more than six times could become a waste of time, money, and energy.

So, the short answer is…

We recommend taking the SAT no more than 3–4 times.

Taking the SAT is all about balance. If you create and stick with a study plan and testing schedule, then you can find the right medium between testing too often and testing too little. If you stop improving after a session or two, then it may be time to stop.